Monday, December 29, 2014

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Obviously by the looks of this place, I have not been doing a lot of reading-for-pleasure as of late. It took me all semester to read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (I would probably get through one to two pages a night before I fell asleep with the book on my face). I realize that most of the world has already read Ender's Game, but this was my first time. My feelings regarding Ender's Game: Meh. It was okay, but keep in mind that this review is coming from someone who is not over the moon about science fiction. In fact most science fiction bores me (which explains why it was so easy to fall asleep reading the book). I do apologize to those of you who are die-hard Ender's Game fans, but the whole time I kept asking myself when the plot was going to begin. So not my favorite.

My reading has picked up significantly since Christmas break, so allow me to talk about a book that I actually do wish to share: Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

This book came as a bit of a surprise to me because as I mentioned previously, I'm not much of one for sci-fi. However, I am a huge fan of classic fairy tales with a twist, which is why I picked up Cinder in the first place. This book is the first in the Lunar Chronicles trilogy, so don't expect the plot to be resolved by the end. It's not going to happen.

The basic premise of the novel is that Cinder is a cyborg living in the city of New Beijing in futuristic Asia. The world is being plagued by well, by the plague, which is taking its devastating toll (as plagues often do). It's the basic Cinderella story with the added effects of cyborgs, plague, an evil queen who lives on the moon, royal conspiracies, and what have you.

Although there were a few bits of plot cohesion to question, I enjoyed reading it. I think Meyer's new spin on this classic story was refreshing, and I'm excited to read the sequels.

Happy reading!

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

“We are slaves, all of us . . . Some are slaves to fear. Others are slaves to reason--or base desire. It is our lot to be slaves . . . and the question must be to what shall we owe our indenture? Will it be to truth or to falsehood, hope or despair, light or darkness? I choose to serve the light, even though that bondage often lies in darkness.”

If you must know, I am in the midst of an insane semester (hence my long absence). However, I am currently taking an intensive class on adolescent literature so I will have many books to throw your way in the coming weeks.

The first book I bring you is of the horror genre. The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey is not something I would have picked of my own accord (because I am namby-pamby when it comes to horror), but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Plot:
Due to an unfortunate accident, a young boy by the name of Will Henry is left orphaned and then adopted by an eccentric doctor whose life's work is dedicated to the study of monsters (aka monstrumology). One dark and stormy night (exaggeration on my part), a grave robber comes to the home of the doctor bearing a curious load on his cart. What the grave robber delivers is the corpse of a young woman entangled in the embrace of the corpse of a dreadful monster. The doctor is able to identify the monster as Anthropophagi, a frightful creature that feasts upon human flesh. Thus the adventure begins as the doctor and Will Henry set about to eradicate their city of a pack of these man-eating monsters.

I do not suggest this book for the squeamish. Although the horror aspects can be quite thrilling, there is a bit of gore (as can be expected with monsters who eat humans like candy), which is not an aspect every reader loves. But like I said, I was pleasantly (gruesomely?) surprised by this novel and was greatly entertained. Although, the author's word choice can get tiring because he overuses certain words such as "macabre." We get it, the whole ordeal is quite macabre.

A fun read if you're looking to try some horror on for size.


Rating: 3/5

Monday, December 23, 2013

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I feel inadequate to be writing about Rebecca because it is one of Lora's favorites and she has been pestering me to read it for years. I have a feeling that she gave it to me as a Christmas present so I would feel a little more guilty if I didn't read it. Now that I have finally read it, I feel embarrassed that I hadn't read it all those years ago, because to be frank, Rebecca is a work of art. My brother (who just received a Master's in English by the way) compared it in greatness to Jane Eyre and even ventured to say that he liked it better than Jane Eyre. Though that may be blasphemy to some, having read Rebecca I understand what he means completely. I cannot say that I liked Rebecca more than Jane Eyre, but I would have to say that I would put them on the same level without question. 
Though the title of the novel may be deceiving, Rebecca is not the name of the protagonist. The protagonist is nameless (a wonderful stylistic choice in my opinion) and the novel is about how Rebecca, the late wife of the protagonist's husband, continually haunts their life. Rebecca haunts the couple not as an actual ghostly presence, but through her overwhelming presence in their home Manderley. 

I am not sure what else to say about it except that I think everyone should read it as soon as possible. I love the prose style, I love the characterization, I love the plot, I love the setting. I love the mystery, the ghostliness, the intrigue. I love it all. I wouldn't even suggest checking out a 
copy of Rebecca from the library, just go out and buy it. Save yourself the trip. 
Trust me. 


Rating: 5/5 Stars

P.S. Alfred Hitchcock also made a film based
on Rebecca (coincidentally entitled Rebecca
starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine 
and I plan to watch it soon. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

I started Shadow and Bone and after about a chapter I was bored out of my mind. I swiftly chucked it under my bed and started into the next book. It was only after it kept popping up on my recommended books on Amazon that I decided to give it another go.  Thank goodness I did. After roughing it through chapter one, the book got significantly better.

Unlike most medieval fantasies that have a heavy European influence, this book has a dark Russian vibe that is ever so refreshing. The book tells the story of Alina, a plain jane orphan whose only family is her best friend Mal (love story?). When she ends up using unknown magical powers to save Mal, she is whisked away to the royal court. There she will be trained as a Grisha, the magical elite led by the Darkling (love triangle?). Now she must learn to control her wild magic in order to destroy the Shadow Fold, an area of darkness filled with flesh eating monsters that is slowly consuming her country. 

Instead of the second book slump most series enter into, Siege and Storm just built on the awesomeness that was the first (love square?!). I’m really excited for the third book to come out and I would definitely recommend reading this trilogy.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Candide by Voltaire

“Optimism," said Cacambo, "What is that?" "Alas!" replied Candide, "It is the obstinacy of maintaining that everything is best when it is worst.” 

I took an enlightenment class in college and I wish I could say I was enlightened. Befuddled best describes my feelings. Oddly enough, I loved the readings and since we never touched on Voltaire while in the class, I decided to grab copy of Candide. 

Candide is a classic satyr based in the late 1700’s that includes both a biting sarcastic undertone as well as a mocking attitude towards religions, governments, philosophers, and theologians. Also it's super random and bizarre, but in the best way possible? 

Like most satyrs you need to have a healthy understanding of the history surrounded the story in order to get 90 percent of the jokes. This means the end notes describing the historical events within the tale are pretty essential.

A synopsis of the tale is this: poor naive Candide tries his best to stay optimistic even through the absurd amount of tragedies he encounters on his journey for true love. It sounds ridiculous because it is, but do not be deceived, this hilarious little read has a lot of depth.
Here’s a taste:

“I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our more stupid melancholy propensities, for is there anything more stupid than to be eager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw away, to loathe one’s very being and yet to hold it fast, to fondle the snake that devours us until it has eaten our hearts away?” 

Rating: 4/5


Sunday, August 25, 2013

World War Z by Max Brooks

My cousin’s been trying to get me to read this book for about a month now and I knew I couldn’t face him again unless I had at least made an attempt. Well, I ended up finishing the book and it completely fascinated me.

The story is about a man who wants to document the “zombie war” by interviewing people from all over the world who were affected by it. The book is broken down into different stages of the war and each stage is comprised of chapters dedicated to individual interviews. 

I have to give the author props for this nifty idea.

Unlike most zombie fiction, this book would not be considered a gore-fest. Each interview was very matter-of-fact and the narrations are based on past events so you go into each story knowing they survived.  Unless they died, turned into zombies, and acquired the skill to talk again. PLOT TWIST!!

Ignore previous sentence.

Downside to all the little stories: there wasn’t a definite plot to keep you from losing interest. Plus the overall outcome was revealed in the first chapter so you were kind of just reading a unique history book.

Final thoughts!

This book is incredibly interesting. The political and social break-down of how each country would react to this “plague” was intriguing and it made me realize I'm rather ignorant about, well, the rest of the world. Plus the narrations were so real I find myself thinking about them as if they actually happened. Which makes me wonder what I would do in these situations and that led to all sorts of panicking. I was never meant to survive anything. I would probably just drink a bottle of Nyquil and hire someone to shoot me once the pseudoephedrine kicked in.

Anyways, this is a much needed addition to the zombie genre and I look forward to his upcoming novels. 

Rating: ★★★★☆  


P.S Someone of the characters language can be best described as colorful - there were a couple stories that I just skipped over - so keep that in mind before you pick up a copy. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

I thought I could escape this book. My outsider perspective labeled it as trivial and borderline Mormon romantic rubbish. It wasn’t until trust-worthy sources told me I had to read it that I reluctantly grabbed a copy. 

My first chapter in I was having flashback to the Georgette Heyer craze of 2006. If you don’t know this author she can be summed up as the slow-witted man’s Jane Austen. Undoubtedly her heroines are caught in extravagant adventures filled with duels, kidnappings, and rich handsome men. It’s unbelievable and frankly ridiculous. So of course I read all of them. I was sadly not above the 2006 craze and I may or may not have led it...

Three more chapters went by and I realized I wouldn’t be getting any sleep that night.

The novel starts out filled with all the details that make up most female fiction. Heroine doesn’t think she’s pretty. She’s pursued by the most desirable male in all the land. He’s rather flirty. She’s not. ..yada yada yada etc. and so forth.

The turning point was watching the interaction between the two. Yes his flirting was over the top and of course she was blind to almost everything, but it was captivating none the less.  

I’m not going to make this novel out to be a modern classic. It’s not. But it is a fun read for the fleeting days of summer. 

Rating: 4/5